What's the best way to repair a botched “meet the parents” dinner? If you're Castle writers, you let your headlining couple get called away to a murder and have them spend the rest of the hour on the run from a pack of ruthless mobsters. Throw in a plot twist or two and some warm fuzzies at the end and you've got an episode as satisfying as a full belly after Thanksgiving dinner.
As cliché as the token joint family dinner is at the beginning, Martha (Susan Sullivan) and Jim (Scott Paulin) make it more than bearable. Their keen timing and sly digs are enough to make anyone who has ever been in Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett's (Stana Katic) shoes wish they could have dashed off to a crime scene too. It's an added bonus when the worried parents show up at the precinct, giving Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald) one more thing to worry about on top of a missing detective, her missing consultant, and their missing witness.
What no one at the precinct knows is that while Castle and Beckett headed out to chase down a lead, they end up losing their cell phones and running for their lives with their witness, Leo (Patrick Fischler) in tow. Thick, awkward tension blankets the silent moments in-between mad dashes for safety, so much so that their traveling companion begins spouting relationship advice. He isn't a counselor himself, but he's logged enough hours on a shrinks couch to discern that the problem isn't between Castle and Beckett's parents, but between the couple themselves.
After a few failed attempts to MacGyver a CB radio and contact headquarters, the pair decide it's time to split up. Castle argues that since Beckett is the cop she should stay with the witness in the safe house they've found while he runs for help. Reluctantly she agrees and they part with a token good luck kiss and with the promise that he will be fine it's clear one of them is about to land in hot water.
At first, Castle seems most likely to be the one leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire. He's picked up by Mickey Dolan (Tony Denison), the mob man who was a boyhood friend of a priest that was murdered. Castle needs to brush up on his poker face because it doesn't take Dolan long to deduce where Beckett and Leo are holed up. The twist, however, is that Dolan is the good guy in the whole mess and Castle has left Beckett with the real murderer and Leo is bent on luring Dolan out and killing him.
Fortunately Castle and Beckett are well-versed in sending coded messages in a short phone conversation so she's able to tip him off and he and Dolan set up a trap for Leo. By the time all of the exposition on Dolan and Leo's part is delivered, Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) have followed the trail of breadcrumbs to their missing fellows and they swoop in for the arrest. Castle and Beckett return to the precinct to find the mutual worries for their safety has bonded their parents; though only time will tell if this is a good development or not.
So do Castle and Beckett have the staying power to make it as a couple? That question will once again arise when Castle returns in two weeks for their holiday episode.
Castle airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.